The New School News

Parsons Explores the Critical Gift of Design

In the spirit of the holiday season, Parsons The New School for Design and the Köln International School of Design (KISD) present a symposium and exhibition exploring what design is capable of giving to the world. Titled The Critical Gift of Design,, the events bring together design and the social sciences and feature leading international designers and scholars.

Symposium participants will discuss what makes design attractive or repulsive, humane or inhumane, social or antisocial. The conference features a keynote address by Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. The conference was organized by Clive Dilnot, professor of design studies at Parsons; Cameron Tonkinwise, associate dean of Sustainability at Parsons; and Michael Erlhoff, founding professor of KISD. Panelists include Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art; Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at The New School for Social Research; Ruedi Baur, graphic designer and co-founder of the interdisciplinary network Intégral Concept; Marco Piva, founder of the architecture, interior, and industrial design firm Studiodada Associati; Uta Brandes, professor of gender and design and of design research at KISD; and Jamer Hunt, director of the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons.

Extending the ideas of the conference is the related exhibition The Present, featuring work by Parsons and KISD students, on display in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons December 16’19. Through critical product design, subversive videos, satirical stories, and provocative projects, The Present will challenge visitors to consider whether design is a gift or a curse. The exhibition will highlight work produced by the first class of students in the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons, a collaborative, studio-based program that applies design solutions to complex global problems.

Admission is free, but registration is required. Visit for more information or to register.

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